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Daily History

August 28 1879 Zulu king captured


King Cetshwayo

On August 28th 1879, King Cetshwayo, the last great ruler of Zululand, was captured by the British following his defeat in the British-Zulu War.

He was subsequently sent into exile. Cetshwayo’s defiance of British rule in southern Africa led to Britain’s invasion of Zululand in 1879.

In 1843, Britain succeeded the Boers as the rulers of Natal, which controlled Zululand, the neighbouring kingdom of the Zulu people.

Boers, also known as Afrikaners, were the descendants of the original Dutch settlers who came to South Africa in the 17th century. Zulus, a migrant people from the north, also came to southern Africa during the 17th century, settling around the Tugela River region.

In 1838, the Boers, migrating north to elude the new British dominions in the south, first came into armed conflict with the Zulus, who were under the rule of King Dingane at the time. The European migrants succeeded in overthrowing Dingane in 1840, replacing him with his son Mpande, who became a vassal of the new Boer republic of Natal. In 1843, the British took over Natal and Zululand.

In 1872, King Mpande died and was succeeded by his son Cetshwayo, who was determined to resist European domination in his territory. In December 1878, Cetshwayo rejected the British demand that he disband his troops, and in January British forces invaded Zululand to suppress Cetshwayo.

The British suffered grave defeats at Isandlwana, where 1,300 British soldiers were killed or wounded, and at Hlobane Mountain, but on March 29 the tide turned in favor of the British at the Battle of Khambula.

King Cetshwayo was subsequently captured and sent into exile, but in 1883 he was reinstated to rule over part of his former territory. However, because of his defeats he was discredited in the eyes of his subjects, and they soon drove him out of Zululand. He died in exile in the next year.

In 1887, faced with continuing Zulu rebellions, the British formally annexed Zululand, and in 1897 it became a part of Natal, which joined the Union of South Africa in 1910.

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Discussion

3 thoughts on “August 28 1879 Zulu king captured

  1. A good post on one of my favourite periods of history. I have always longed to visit these battlefields. For some reason this war has a resonance in the U.K. that other wars of the empire no longer have, if they ever did so in the first place.

    I suppose the famous films are a big reason for this and perhaps its relative recent setting. One cannot help feel sorry for almost everyone in this episode. The fabulously brave Zulu warriors with their King who did everything to avoid war against the British (not so much against others) whose feats live on even today.

    The British who were forced into the war by an ambitious local governor and rather inept Commanding Officer and the men and boys who often fought against all the odds and died as it used to be said that English men should. Anyone who has read the accounts of the death of Captain Younghusband cannot help to be inspired and chilled in equal measure. His squad of men fought until out of ammunition and at the end the Captain went down the line and shook hands with every survivor before they charged with their bayonets into oblivion.

    Apparently cartridges are still washed out of the soil at some battlefields following heavy rain and I’d really recommend some of the Zulu history books some of which contain diaries and letters home in a similar way to the more famous WW1 letters from the Somme.

    Posted by Stephen Liddell | August 28, 2012, 00:36
  2. I don’t know that I can say that I like this, as it is stark history of Imperialism at the expense of African people, but it is better to remember and learn from history than to forget it. Thank you.

    Posted by carpebootium | August 28, 2012, 03:02
  3. Craig, very interesting – never know a lot about the Zulu war. Saw a movie once about the war and it was one of the worst and most boring movies I ever seen. That is all the knowledge I had. So thanks for this one.

    Posted by viveka | August 29, 2012, 02:12

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